President Barack Obama — love him or loathe him, give him his due: He sometimes speaks the truth.
At least, when he doesn’t know he’s being recorded.
During a meeting in Seoul, South Korea, President Obama asked Russian President Dmitry Medvedev for “space” on missile defense issues between our countries, pointing out that, “This is my last election. After my election, I have more flexibility.”
Much attention has been focused on what this means for U.S. plans to deploy a missile defense system. But let’s consider more generally this concept of “flexibility” regarding politicians.
“Where annual elections end, tyranny begins,” was a popular slogan in revolutionary America. The idea being that giving elected officials too long a leash, without an election in the offing, i.e. without the voters back home breathing down their necks, our representatives might sorta start forgetting to represent us and begin to represent themselves.
Our founders were not big fans of such flexibility.
Today, our elected “leaders” regularly attempt to distance their policy decisions from the elections where voters might make decisions of their own canceling out those decisions, or at least, tossing out the politicians who made them.
At our country’s founding, representatives were often officially instructed on how to vote regarding important issues. Today, most incumbents refuse to sign any type of pledge, saying it would tie their hands, denying them flexibility in solving problems.
Elections serve voters; flexibility serves politicians.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.